Tetra is a new online retail platform and lifestyle brand dedicated to elevating the aesthetics of the smoking experience. Founded by three design journalists and curators, Tetra offers an array of specially commissioned smoking accessories created by some of the design and fashion worlds’ most influential talents.
During the mid-century period, before smoking was considered taboo, design luminaries of the era — such as Dieter Rams, Marianne Brandt, and Enzo Mari — created iconic home accessories for smokers. Now that new interest and industries are arising around smoking, Tetra seeks to celebrate the experience again through the lens of great design. Tetra’s selection of smoking implements includes contemporary pipes, ashtrays, snuff boxes, lighters, storage pouches, and a carefully curated selection of vintage accouterments.
Designers creating accessories for Tetra’s launch include: Apparatus, Alma Allen, Correll Correll, Ben Medansky, Matthias Kaiser, Jonah Takagi, Joe Doucet, Fredericks & Mae, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Fort Standard, Crescioni, The Principals, Recreation Center, OTAAT, Uhuru, Leah Ball, Julianne Ahn, Dana Bechert, Andrew O. Hughes, and more. In addition, Tetra will offer select existing products by Pax, Rablabs, Normann Copenhagen, Tsubota Pearl, and more.
While smoking has always had a lot of appeal, mainstream products associated with it have long been lacking in the aesthetic department, which is why we were so excited when Tetra came out. We had a chance to speak with Eviana, one of the three Tetra founders, to find out more about this project and the creators behind it.
Where did this idea originate from?
We were on the beach together in Malibu and just talking about how we needed a new project, and this idea came up! We wanted to bring our curatorial sensibility to a new project, but create something different–something that didn’t exist in the world already. The culture of smoking is exploding in the US, but the vast majority of the objects that exist don’t cater to a refined design sensibility. We decided to bring an elevated, chic, and artistically adventurous perspective to the genre of smoking accessories.
How do the three of you know each other and how did you come together to form this project?
We are all journalists in the design world, with overlapping interests and tastes. Monica and I met in New York many years ago through work circles and Su and Monica first met through mutual interest between their websites, Sight Unseen and I’m Revolting. I met Su through friends when I was living in LA.
How are you sourcing and finding the objects for your shop?
Because of our work as journalists, we are friends with many artists and designers. We reached out to every designer we know and other designers we admire but don’t know and asked them how they wanted to participate. In many cases we asked designers to make something special for us, while in other cases we’re carrying existing objects from their collections (in the case of Apparatus, Tom Dixon, Steven Haulenbeek, etc.)
Some people were slightly scandalized by the concept, but most were excited.
The materials of the objects seem like an important part of the project, is this a way for you bring back things that can be treasured and passed on as opposed to disposed of?
We are attuned to quality and detail and believe our audience feels the same way. We all collect and treasure beautiful things; we work closely with artists and designers and know firsthand the time and care it takes to make a thoughtful, beautiful object to keep forever. The items we sell are useful and enduring and designed to inspire conversation.
What are some of the art and culture influences behind project ?
We were inspired by the fact that designers like Dieter Rams, Marianne Brandt, and Enzo Mari once made smoking accessories. We all pay attention to contemporary art and graphic design. But the overall aesthetic of the store is also shaped by the individual ideas each designer brought to the table, almost like that of a gallery. We used our tastes to filter and edit these ideas, but overall we wanted to achieve a balance that felt artistically adventurous yet chic.
About the Founders:
Monica Khemsurov is a design curator and journalist whose work appears regularly in T magazine, W, Architectural Digest, and more. She also co-founded the design blog and online shop Sight Unseen.
Su Wu is an arts writer whose work appears in T magazine and on Artforum.com, among others. She is a former USC/Getty Arts Journalism fellow and founder of the inspiration blog I’m Revolting.
Eviana Hartman writes about style and design for T Magazine and Vogue, among others, and does creative and brand consulting for the fashion industry. She is also the founder of the sustainable fashion line Bodkin.